The colossal statue of the Nile, one of the masterpieces of the Vatican Museums, was unearthed in 1513 in the Campo Marzio, where it may have formed part of the Iseum Campense, a twin temple that was dedicated to the Egyptian deities Isis and Serapis.
The Nile is personified as a muscular and bearded figure, cradling a cornucopia of fruit in his left arm and holding ears of wheat in his right hand. Egypt is represented by a sphinx.
The scene is enlivened by sixteen children, who allude to the sixteen cubits of water by which the Nile rises for its annual flood.
The statue can be found in the Braccio Nuovo (New Wing) of the Museo Chiaramonti, which was designed by the Roman architect Raffaele Stern for Pope Pius VII (r. 1800-1823).
Blogging about Rome:
its art, history and culture.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
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